Keynote Speakers

Dr. Darrel Wanzer-SerranoDarrel Wanzer-Serrano

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano  is Associate Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University. He is also Core Faculty in the Latino/a and Mexican American Studies (LMAS) Program. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetoric, race/racism, diversity and social justice, and Latinx studies. Dr. Wanzer-Serrano’s research is focused on the intersections of race, ethnicity, and public discourse, particularly as they relate shifting cultural and organizational terrains. His last book, the award-winning The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Temple University Press, 2015), was the first scholarly monograph on one of the most significant organizations of the Puerto Rican diaspora. In it, he crafts a critical rhetorical history of the Latinx social movement organization and treats them as a touchstone for building decolonial theory and praxis — both for scholars and for organizers. His scholarship has been anthologized; it has also appeared in numerous journals, edited books, and in various public forums. Dr. Wanzer-Serrano is currently conducting research about institutional rhetorics of “servingness” at emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), with a specific focus on how those discourses emerge from contexts of racialized organizations.

Dr. Marla Franco Marla Franco

Dr. Marla Franco serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for Hispanic-Serving Institution Initiatives at the University of Arizona. She has worked in higher education for 22 years in various roles within academic and student affairs to champion greater college access and degree attainment among underserved and minoritized students, which strongly informs her work today.

Dr. Franco led efforts that resulted in the UA becoming the first four-year public university in the state of Arizona to be federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. She is now working across the university to maximize the designation in a way that truly benefits students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members from diverse backgrounds. She also led efforts that resulted in the University of Arizona becoming one of nine institutions to be awarded the inaugural Seal of Excelencia in 2019.

In 2017, Dr. Franco co-led efforts with faculty that resulted in UA becoming the first recipient of the National Science Foundation’s HSI conference grant, which supported the convening of over 100 thought leaders from five states within the southwest region of the United States aimed at transforming STEM education at HSIs.

As a scholar-practitioner, she has co-authored several publications and consensus reports to inform improved practice at HSIs.

Dr. Franco is a first-generation college graduate, having earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in counseling from California State University, Long Beach, and a doctoral degree in higher education leadership from Azusa Pacific University. Dr. Franco leads strategically, courageously, and with a fierce passion for what she does.